Most (starting) entrepreneurs and freelancers will work from home most of the time. Renting office space is expensive and in most cases unnecessary. However, staying productive when you’re working from home can be a challenge with the distraction of – well, everything… The temptation to sit down and watch ‘just one’ episode of your favorite show on Netflix or to browse social media on your phone is just a lot bigger when you’re not in an office with other people who would see you procrastinate…
My Biggest Challenges Working From Home
My own pitfalls include (but are not limited to) spending too much time on my phone, being a little too flexible with my working hours so I have no structure in my day whatsoever, being busy but not productive, and lacking focus because I hear the washing machine beeping and moaning it’s done and wants to be emptied.
Remember how your room would be super tidy and clean when you had to work on a big school project? That’s kinda what happens as an entrepreneur for me too. I’m either in a state of flow and don’t look up from my work all day or I’m decalcifying my coffee maker and organizing my closet. There seems to be no inbetween.
Sounds familiar? Just me?
Fortunately, I’ve found ways to deal with my procrastinative nature.
So, how DO you stay productive working from home?
Here are a few of our favorite tips:
The Forest app
Is your phone a major distraction for you with all of its exciting notifications? Do you suffer from FOMO as much as I do? In that case, Forest might be the app for you.
You set a time for how long you plan on not touching your phone. For example, you want to work on a certain project for 1,5 hours, you set the timer for 90 minutes. The app will start growing a cute little tree and if you close the app before the timer goes off, you kill the tree. Believe me, that’s a very effective guilt trip. 😉
The best part about this app? You actually plant trees! For every 2500 points you collect, Forest will plant an actual tree. How cool is that?
Decide on your ‘working hours’
Create a doable schedule for yourself. Set your alarm for the same time each morning, do your morning routine and get to work at the same time every day. Also make sure to take regular breaks to keep your focus and to stop working at a set time. The temptation to keep working at night might be there, but it’s healthier to also make time for other things like unwinding, your social life and your household. We get that when your purpose and passions are also your job, you want to keep working, but those kind of things catch up with you soon and can cause a lot of stress. Better to avoid that altogether.
Also, it’s been proven that working for longer doesn’t equal being more productive. Actually, it’s quite the opposite. If we work more than 50 hours a week, our productivity drops significantly, when you work more than 55 it “falls off a cliff”. The sweet spot is working between 30 and 38 hours per week. That’s when we are most productive and feel least stressed (because we’re still getting things done).
Have a prioritized to-do list
Decide on the few things you really need to get done and focus on those. We keep busy with all the things we ‘need’ to do as entrepreneurs: social media, answering our emails and messages and updating our blogs and websites. And while all these things are certainly important, they can be very distracting. For most entrepreneurs, these things take up a lot of their valuable time.
The key for me is to have a prioritized to-do list and I focus on crossing these things off my list first. When you focus on one thing at a time, you get them done quicker. Which actually leaves you more time than you would have if you tried to multitask.
Automation & outsourcing
This one counts for every entrepreneur, not just for the ones working from home: automate your social media posts and your email campaigns. Write your blog posts for the month ahead of time. It will take up less of your time when you spend two or three days a month focusing on your marketing. Create and schedule all your content ahead of time and you won’t have to pay attention to it as much as you would if you took it day by day. Just make some time every day to reply to comments you get to keep your audience engaged.
Of course, you can also let other people take over certain parts of running your business. For instance, you can outsource running your social media, your bookkeeping, your webdesign and copywriting to other entrepreneurs who enjoy doing those things a lot more than you or who could simply do them better or in less time. By delegating certain tasks, you free up a lot of your time you could spend on doing things you love or that make you (more) money.
Have a designated workspace
Create an organized working spot like a home office or a desk if you don’t have a spare room. Only be in that spot when you’re working. This helped me become a lot more productive, because it had a similar feeling as going to an office. “I’m here to work.”
It’s important to keep your workspace tidy and organized and have as little distractions as possible. Try to have as much natural light as you can and houseplants help you focus and keep you less stressed. Make it a nice spot you love being in. Get a comfortable chair and make it look inviting. I have a board on Pinterest with lots of (home) office inspiration.
This is for the extreme procrastinators among us: find someone to be your accountability partner. Let them change your Netflix password and only give it to you when you’ve finished what you needed to do. Ask them to give you a metaphorical slap on the wrist if they see you on social media when you shouldn’t be. And of course, you could do the same for them. Check if you crossed off the important stuff of your to-do lists at the end of the day and exchange the new passwords for a night of well-deserved binge-watching. 😉
Hopefully these tips will help you stay more productive when working from home. They definitely worked for us! If you have any more tips to share with us, we’d love to hear them in the comments!
Maud & Mark